It sure looked like the Minnesota Wild had its roster set for the 2010-2011 season. There were rumors that Mike Modano might return to the birthplace of his NHL career, but that idea (however far-fetched) was squashed by him signing with his hometown Detroit Red Wings.
But General Manager Chuck Fletcher wasn't finished rounding out his roster for 2010-11. Fletcher often talks about finding character, grit and leadership when acquiring players. On Friday, he found a guy that epitomizes all of those qualities, and he's got one more. He wins.
Fresh off winning his third Stanley Cup, John Madden agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Wild. His presence provides more depth at a position that is typically the toughest to fill for NHL teams.
"It's not every day you can add a three-time Cup winner to your roster," said Fletcher. "John will bring a lot to this team at both ends of the rink, and he will also bring a lot of character to the locker room."
Suddenly, the Wild has a backlog of players at center, which was a position that was severely depleted last year. Madden joins Mikko Koivu
, Matt Cullen
, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, Kyle Brodziak
, James Sheppard and Casey Wellman on the depth chart.
While plenty of decisions will be made between now and October, it's going to be difficult for a younger player to bump Madden, who will presumably fill the role of third line center, and would likely play alongside Cal Clutterbuck
, Chuck Kobasew or Eric Nystrom.
"It's going to be a very competitive training camp this year," said Fletcher. "Every day will be a battle for spots, and that's how it should be. We now have very strong depth at center."
The signing could allow a hopefully healthy Bouchard to move to wing, where he has spent most of his prolific career.
The 37-year-old Madden has been one of the game's top defensive forwards over his 11-year career, which fits right in with defensive stalwarts Koivu and Cullen. He won the Selke trophy in 2001, and was a finalist for the award in 2003, 2004 and 2008. He led last year's Blackhawk team in shorthanded ice time (2:18 per game) and blocked shots (58). He also ranked in the Top 20 in faceoff percentage at a 53% success rate.
The former Michigan Wolverine can also chip in offensively. He posted 10 goals last season, marking the ninth season of his career with at least 10 goals. He also surpassed the 20-point mark, which he's done in each of his 10 full NHL seasons.